”Were the ex-bandits unreliable at night? Oh no it was not that. On the contrary they were very disciplined. Well then, what was it?….the tigers, perhaps? No it wasn’t the tigers either..but the fact was that after dark Angkor was a very bad place for the neak ta eysaur and the neak ta en – in other words, the spirits Siva and Indra.
Thus had the powerful Brahamical gods of the Khmer Empire shrunk and shrivelled along with the Empire itself. And now they were no more than neak ta – mere tree spirits to frighten babies with; of no more importance than the khmoo pray – the wicked dead, such as women who have died in childbed; the beisac – the famished souls of those who have died violently, who return from hell to implore food; the smer, who, losing their reason, have become werewolves, and the srei ap, beautiful girls, who through dabbling in black magic have inadvertently turned themselves into heads, accompanied only by alimentary canals, and live on excrement. The Khmer gods have accompanied their worshippers in their decline.”
Quoted from ‘A Dragon Apparent’ by Norman Lewis (1951).